Welcome to the blog that's all about me (and that means a lot of NASCAR, college football and more NASCAR)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finding an ideal “football” wife

Last week the website Football Scoop—known for breaking stories on coaching changes and industry info in the football world—posted an article listing the 10 ways you know you’ve found the ideal “coach’s wife”. Of course the list was an interesting read as someone who has spent the last decade working in the college football ranks in one way or another, from the ground up as an undergraduate student filming practices and games into the full-time role I hold now as head of the football video department here at my alma mater. But, just as my role has evolved and changed over the years, so has my personal life. When I started working in the football world full-time I was single and dedicated to the job.

The long hours and little time off during the season rarely afforded me any chances to wade into the dating pool, and that was fine with me at the time. As the last few years wore on I made my way out more and more often as time allowed, and as most folks know by now, I’m currently engaged and prepping to get married in 2018.

Sometimes we work side by side (Thanks Megan Coffey for the photo)
Laura doesn’t always like my job, and who can blame her? She doesn’t get to see me that often during the season, and knows the hours I put in mean less time we have together. Luckily though, she tags along to various events and even comes to games and shoots photos for our recruiting department to use (Check out our team Facebook page too. Sometimes we feature her work there. It helps to know people).

While the list above features the word “coach” quite a bit, every one of the video professionals I know was able to relate to the list. Whether you work as a coach or as someone behind the scenes, the hours you put in are the virtually same at schools across the country. Whether you win one game or all of them, the hours we have to dedicate to practices and games during the season rarely get any shorter. And days off? Those also don’t really exist.

Me on the field last year on the night of my brother's wedding
I haven’t seen many members of my family in months and most of them understand the time commitments of my job. Want proof? Last year, as the UC Bearcats kicked off against Tulsa on a November night I was on a limo with my brother, moments after he just got married. While I was able to both attend his wedding and able to stop by my office to ensure my job was handled properly, I knew that guilty feeling stated in the Football Scoop list that I was going to fail to be in two necessary places at one time.

The balance of work and life can be tough to manage. It was a prominent discussion topic in one of my graduate school classes, and more recently a post on a website called Front Office Sports.

Understanding that football isn’t everything in life is tough to learn when you’ve never had someone else on the other end of your life like I do now. I used to be able to kick back and spend a few extra minutes in the office working on a video or conversing with co-workers about the job we have. Now I take some extra precautions to make it home a few moments earlier than I used to when I was single, and even set aside certain nights to go out to dinner with Laura and keep my phone in my pocket. I focus on us and not work, and it’s been work to try to keep that in line.

Myself and Carl on team photo day last year
This job isn’t easy, and you don’t need me to tell you that. Carl, my esteemed assistant, also wrote a piece for Front Office Sports that explained his rise in this college football world from a student assistant in the recruiting department to where he is now.

What no one ever taught us, we’ve been able to learn as we have progressed forward in our careers. When a colleague last week stopped in our office and asked us what we would be doing with some extra hours off on our bye week we both exclaimed that we were probably doing some wedding planning (Carl gets married next summer, so he’s a little closer to his date) and hanging with our soon-to-be spouses.

While it may not be easy to understand our lives or understand the 80-plus hour, in-season work weeks we subject ourselves to, we all have women behind us who help us through the good times and the bad, and women who love football and what it brings us.

While I may not have a “coach’s wife” by strict definition, I have a woman behind me who loves the fact that I love what I do, and still have the time to spend with her outside of the workplace. This job isn’t easy but having friends and family around to support you is key. So is having the right woman, if you’ve been lucky enough to find her, and there’s no doubt I’ve been lucky enough to find the right one.

Sure I haven’t found much time in the past few months to sit behind the computer and write down blogs but I hope my posts can become a little more meaningful as I grow a little older. I’ll still try to write as much about NASCAR as I can, and share some insights into college football when I can as well. It’s what I know and what I love. But now that I have a good friend to spend time with outside of work, occasionally I’ll put the laptop away and spend time with her instead of pounding out a quick NASCAR story.

While I won’t be retiring from the blog any time soon, I hope this post stands as a reminder to the important things in life—friends and family—and how to cherish the moments we have with them. Sure I haven’t written as much as I would have liked to recently, but hopefully you loyal readers understand. Thanks for stopping by as always.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kentucky Speedway adding layer of asphalt to track

Coming off the first full season of racing on the second generation of track surface, officials at Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Kentucky Speedway have decided to add a second layer of asphalt to the track’s surface.
Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson race in July at Kentucky

“When our team examined the race track, portions of the paving performed earlier this year did not meet the construction specifications,” said Mark Simendinger, Kentucky Speedway’s General Manager, in a news release sent from the track on Monday. “These deficiencies had no impact on this year’s racing and would affect only the long term viability of the surface if left uncorrected.

“In order to remedy these issues, an additional surface course of asphalt will be applied. The track will cure over the winter and be fully in use in the spring.”

Within a month the new asphalt layer will be laid on the 1.5-mile track in Sparta, Kentucky, to allow the winter months to age the surface. Kentucky Speedway said the project will be coordinated by Vice President of Operations and Development for SMI Steve Swift who oversaw the repave and redesign project.

The track, which was repaved last winter for the first time since its construction in 1999, had a new layer of asphalt on it this summer for the NASCAR tripleheader weekend which includes races from all three major NASCAR series (Sprint Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck).

Before the repave project Kentucky Speedway was known as one of the roughest, bumpiest tracks on the schedule. Officials tried to recreate the age of the old surface by using tire draggers and some curing processes to artificially add some age to the track. After reassessing the surface though officials think it’s best to add another layer of asphalt to improve the longevity of the track as it endures harsh winters and hot summers in the hills of Kentucky.

“The track is as difficult to run on as it’s ever been,” said Brad Keselowski after winning his third Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 this summer. “It’s very slick. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing that brings out the best in a driver. Of course I liked it better the way it was but over time hopefully it will get back to the way it was and maybe better without the water drainage issues that plagued this track. I completely understand why the repave was done.”

Friday, September 30, 2016

Color Rush: An NFL game experience

As almost everyone who knows me knows, the NFL just isn’t my cup of tea. Sundays are for NASCAR racing in my world, not the NFL, which is contrary to what most “normal” folks would consider a good Sunday afternoon. Yet my life is defined by Saturdays (college football) and Sundays (NASCAR) almost year-round.

As I pointed out in a string of tweets on Thursday morning I had only attended one regular-season NFL game in my lifetime, a 2006 Bengals-Falcons tilt with my grandma, a lifelong Bengals season ticket holder (yes, even when the Bengals were the bungles she still went to nearly every game. The lady loves football, what can I say?). However, a call from Bengals PR to a co-worker of mine earlier in the week left a one-time offer to assist in the pressbox on Thursday night with the Dolphins radio crew on the table and the job was offered to me since I’m a Dolphins fan when I root for an NFL squad.
A pre-game view from the Dolphins radio booth

Thursday night’s game was an NFL dubbed “color rush” where the Dolphins and Bengals had to suit up in monochromatic jerseys. The Dolphins wore a bright orange jersey and pants combo while the Bengals donned an all-white look for a game broadcast nationally on the NFL Network.

For me, though, a chance to assist the Dolphins three-man radio crew, made up of play-by-play man Jimmy Cefalo, and color commentators Joe Rose and Bob Griese, was a cool chance to do something at a football game I’ve never done before, and something that was different than working with a camera or a laptop. My job, to spot for Cefalo, was simple. I assisted the Dolphins on-radio voice by telling him who had the ball on offense and who made a good play on defense (whether it be a tackle, a pass deflection or an interception).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (in white) catches a pass (ESPN.com)
The crew of Cefalo, Rose and Griese were there to greet me when I walked into the booth with more than an hour until kickoff as Cefalo explained to me the help he would need. All three guys are former Dolphins players and each asked me about my job with UC and various questions about the city. Griese even told me he played a pro game at UC’s Nippert Stadium back in the early years of the Bengals franchise before Riverfront Stadium was built.

When the game kicked off though it was all business between the three men as they seamlessly passed off comments on the game and described the action on the field, which started well for the Dolphins as they scored on a long touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills.

From there, well, it was just another football game and I was locked in to doing a job to assist the guys in the Dolphins radio booth. It was fun, and no doubt a different way to experience the game than I’m used to doing when I work in college football.

It was a cool experience to help out in the pressbox, something I haven’t truly done since I was in high school doing stats at Elder. It was a unique experience to work with professionals at the highest level and certainly something I enjoyed. Sure I didn’t get to sit back and watch the game as a fan, but honestly, I don’t ever do that at any sporting event I attend anymore.

Even though the Dolphins lost I was happy I got to make some new connections and was complimented on my work, which made me feel like I did an adequate job at assisting the Dolphins radio crew on the broadcast. Sure the NFL isn’t my cup of proverbial tea, but it was fun to be a part of the big game Thursday night at Paul Brown. Maybe I’ll get to do it again some day down the line.